Hey Now, You’re A Rock Star

“I see you’re still like, totally rock-n-roll!” 

This fairly unexpected statement was spoken to me by a friend whom I hadn’t seen in several years. We’ve known each other forever — possibly literally — and she’s funny and charming and at that moment, I felt like she had never known me at all. I was wearing a T-shirt, leggings and a cardigan.  

A cardigan 

It was true that the T-shirt said AC DC on it in silver letters, but, still. I got the thing at H&M. Nobody was going to mistake me for Keith Richards, and please, let’s not forget the cardigan. 

Me. The rocker.

“Sure am,” I said back to my friend, because, why not? What the hell. I considered giving her that rock-n-roll hand gesture thingy but I always mess up and do the Spiderman one instead. Or are they the same? I don’t even know. I am like a rock-n-roll-Peter-Parker-slash-Mr.-Rogers. Next thing you know I’d be playing Crystal Gayle on the jukebox. Come to think of it, I believe I have played Crystal Gayle on a jukebox. And Peaches & Herb. 

But enough about me. 

Let’s talk about rock-n-roll, or more specifically, rock stars. The thing is, I feel like it takes a certain kind of family to raise a rock star, and mine was most certainly not that family. We had the cursing and infighting down, I suppose, but beyond that we were hopeless. Consider: I grew up in the ’80’s, an era that can be defined almost entirely by its hairdos, and yet I don’t think I knew what hairspray was until maybe 1992. We had bedtimes and we did not ever listen to music too loud. I was in a spelling bee once. I won a dictionary. I’ve never understood how a dictionary is supposed to help you spell things. Like, if you don’t know how to spell rendezvous, are you supposed to peruse the whole ‘R’ section? These are the kinds of things I think about. If you are saying to yourself, she is the least rock-n-roll person I have ever heard of, then you would be right. 

One of my greatest talents.

And yet, it occurs to me that maybe it’s all in how you look at it. Take my mother. We were at a baby shower once, and those of you that have attended baby showers know that it’s mostly about sitting there politely and smiling while a pregnant woman opens individually wrapped onesies and baby monitors that all but allow you to change the baby’s diaper from three rooms away. Typically you are playing bingo at the same time to make it all less tedious. It was during the gift-opening at this particular shower that my mother pushed back her chair, stood up, and said, “That’s enough. I’m ready to go.” 

It was rude and it was hilarious (to me, if not to the pregnant woman) and I don’t know, but I feel like that’s a little bit rock star. 

As for my dad, well, for him I quite frankly cannot drum up any rock star memories at all. He was even in a band back in the day, but still, nothing. He played the trumpet and he told me that once, when he was sitting next to a girl he liked on the bus, he blew that trumpet right in her ear. She got upset, as anyone would once they have been deafened by a lunatic with a brass instrument, and her brother threatened my dad’s life.  

“So, what did you do?” I asked my dad. 

“I stayed in my house,” he said. “For about six months. And I started picking up weights so I would be ready if that guy came around.” 

Dad, I am sorry. But no rock star refers to weightlifting as “picking up weights.” 

My dad was in the military and occasionally played “Taps” in our backyard. I don’t know why.

This Thursday, I will go to sit with my dad while they pull out his four remaining bottom teeth, or anyway the roots of those teeth. The teeth themselves broke off a while back. After that, they will fit him for a new set of teeth, a full plate to replace the busted up partial he wears now. He also got new glasses. He’s 81 and well into the late stages of Alzheimer’s but you know? I think he’s finally made it. New glasses and shiny new teeth and now he’s one animal print scarf away from Steven Tyler status.  

I texted my aunt: Dad got new glasses and he’s getting new bottom teeth, he’ll be a rock star.  

Which just goes to show you, it’s never too late. Maybe even for me.  

Rock on. 

To My Kids: In Case of Dementia, Read This.

Hi kids. If you are reading this, it must mean that the dementia finally got me. That sucks. For me, certainly, but mostly for you because your minds, unlike mine, are presumably still functional enough to see what’s happening. I know how much it sucks because as you may recall, I’ve been in your shoes when my dad had the same disease. Which, obviously, is exactly why I’m writing this: we can call it an Advance Dementia Directive. It is not, as you might suspect, simply because I am bossy and rather particular in my tastes.  

Actually, it is that. But it’s also because I want you to have the guidance and advice that Pap Pap never got to give me.

So here you go. Please don’t treat these requests as optional. I do believe in life after life, so follow these recommendations or suffer the wrath of Ghost Mommy. I dare you!

Ghost Mommy may have lost a few pounds.

1.  Feel free to laugh at me, if I do or say something funny. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. It doesn’t matter if I meant to be funny, it doesn’t even matter if I understand why you’re laughing. I will not take it personally and my confusion will not linger. Laugh. It’s about the only good you will get out of this, so take it when you can. 

2.  Soft clothing. I don’t care if it looks like a tablecloth or set of curtains. For that matter I don’t care if it is a tablecloth or set of curtains. If it’s soft, I will wear it. Dress me in jeans and you’ll be checking under your bed every night for the rest of your lives, and trust me, haunted-mommy-under-the-bed will be way uglier than even early-morning-trying-to-finish-writing-something-but-you-two-won’t-quit-arguing-over-a-Playstation-game-mommy. 

3.  Nursing homes might try to tell you that I have nutritional needs. I do not. Their only goal is to keep from getting sued. Tell them I must eat what I like and if that means all of my meals include pureed cinnamon rolls, so be it. I’m not going to get any healthier. Let me have the goddamned sugar. 

Extra credit: push me uphill in a wheelchair while carrying a man bag.

4.  Very important: socks. I HATE WHEN MY SOCKS ARE BAGGY AND FALLING OFF MY FEET. Please, I am begging you, make sure my socks are tight, but not so tight that they cut off my circulation. You know what, I’m just going to buy my own socks. I’m going to start stockpiling them now, then I’ll attach them to this letter and you can tell all my grandchildren, “You know, this is just like Grandma! Always solving problems! Always living her best life!” And so on. 

5.  Come to see me. At the very least hologram yourselves into my room, as I’m sure that will be a thing by then. 

6.  While you’re there, make friends with the other residents. They’ll be happier for it and so will you. 

7.  On days you can’t make it, hologram a Tom Petty concert into my room and follow it up with Prince. I’ll make some playlists. I don’t want to hear any of the songs I don’t like. If I cry while listening to those songs, know that you have done well. 

My room at the nursing home.

8.  While I’m on the subject, hologrammed Golden Girls episodes would be super-fun; either that or perhaps there can be some kind of virtual reality (perhaps one of you can invent it!) where I’ll actually be in a Golden Girls episode. With cheesecake! It’s a dream come true.

9.  You can bring your kids to see me if you like, but it’s not required. HAHAHAHAHA! You’re thinking, WHAT??? Not required? Then how come WE had to go see YOUR DAD all the time? I’ll tell you why, it’s because you were good kids and you knew it was the right thing. If you’re raising little hellions that refuse to visit their grandmother, that’s your problem, not mine. 

10.  If I become mean or otherwise not myself, know that I love you. 

11.  When I seem distant and disengaged, know that I love you. 

12.  When I say things that don’t make sense, know that I love you.

13.  When I stare out the window instead of smiling at you, know that I love you.

14.  When I don’t know your names or who you are at all, know that I love you, KNOW THAT I LOVE YOU. 

15.  Lastly – if your father is the one to get dementia instead of me: well, it’s hard to imagine nice socks and Golden Girls holograms will keep him happy. Maybe send him into the woods with antlers strapped to his head. I don’t know.

Just kidding. Be nice to Daddy.

We both love you.



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